Do Not Try This At Home

My work-at-home days do not look like this. (Photo credit: Bill Bradford via Wikimedia Commons)
My work-at-home days do not look like this. (Photo credit: Bill Bradford via Wikimedia Commons)

I have detected a bit of envy in people when I tell them I can work from home from time to time. This might be because I live in Canada, and generally a commute in January, in Canada, can be rough.

And clearly I don’t need to commute. No, I roll out of bed some time around noon, pull on my warm and fuzzy housecoat and my favourite pair of bunny slippers, and cruise downstairs. There, I help myself to a fresh croissant, some hot coffee, and I retrieve the morning newspaper from the front step. With the sunlight streaming in the living room window, I peruse the day’s news and enjoy my breakfast.

After that, a nice sudsy bubble bath gets me ready for the day. I reach my desk around 3 p.m., put in a good three, maybe four hours work before I’m tapped out. A late, but gourmet dinner, and an evening reading by the fireplace ends my day.

Bahahahaha! No.

My work at home day actually starts when I am jolted awake by my toddler, who has decided, at 6 a.m., to shout “EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!” indicating that she’s had enough of this lollygagging about. (C+C Music Factory has a *lot* to answer for.) Since she doesn’t come equipped with a snooze button, my response is to pull a pillow over my head; my husband staggergrumbles his way to the shower. I’d say I can’t wait for my daughter to get past this phase, except that I know that her next trick will be to sneak out of bed and tip her entire box of Lego out onto a hardwood floor.

At 5:30 a.m.

I know this, because we’ve got three other children, and tipped out Lego boxes have been the least of it over the years.

Anyway, then it’s my turn for a shower, while my husband looks after the nappy change, the PJ change, the tooth brushing and breakfast. We got into this routine when our first born was just a tiny baby; I believe we do this because I was the one up all night doing feedings, and it was only fair my shift ended at 6 a.m. My husband believes we do it this way because I’m not a morning person, and left to my own devices, I’d end up getting one of my kid’s teddy bears ready for the day and not know the difference.

After a breakfast of cold cereal and lukewarm tea, I grab my laptop to try and cram in as much work as I can do in an hour — the amount of time it takes to run one episode Sesame Street. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered queries from Southeast Asia to the sound of Cookie Monster chowing down on the letter of the day. Fortunately, my toddler is not easily distracted and I know I can count on her not to come over to my laptop and *SIHSM S BW E#(UG(DGPSS DG

My husband and I will spend the rest of the day fielding telephone calls and emails in between teddy bear picnics, homeschool lessons, house cleaning, mid-morning snacks, train games, lunch, colouring books, house cleaning, mid-afternoon snacks, walks to the park, dinner, and the all-Dr.Seuss-hour.


ME: Hello, Chandra speaking, how may I help you?
CLIENT: Yes I’d like to enquire about…
ME: No, that’s not yellow, sweetie, that’s red. Red crayon.
CLIENT: Pardon?
ME: Sorry, you were saying?
CLIENT: Yes, I’m interested in purchasing your…
ME: Don’t touch that!
CLIENT: I’m sorry??
ME: No, no, not you… carry on please! You want to purchase…?
CLIENT: Yes, that really expensive service you have, I’d like to buy that and…
ME: No! Get away from the phone or I’ll— beeeeeeeeep.
ME: Hello? Hello are you there?

Eight p.m. is bedtime — for the kids. For us it’s the start of our second shift, where we catch up on all the things we weren’t able to get done during the day. If we’re lucky, we’ll crawl into bed sometime around 2 a.m.

Don’t get me wrong — we deliberately set it up so we could work from home when necessary. I have to admit to enjoying a good laugh every time I wake up to snow, smug in the knowledge that I don’t have to scrape the car and take a snow-blower to the driveway just to get to the office.

It’s just… some days the idea of getting *out* to an office does have a certain appeal.

Perhaps if we installed a water cooler, just there. I’m sure we could count on our toddler not to…

Never mind.

Bathroom Break

Sadly, we don't seem to have made much progress here. (Photo credit: Tomasz Kuran via Wikimedia Commons)
Sadly, we don’t seem to have made much progress here. (Photo credit: Tomasz Kuran via Wikimedia Commons)

We’ve had indoor plumbing for what, 200 years now? More than that if you go back past the Middle Ages and into the Greek and Roman eras. So why are modern bathrooms so poorly designed?

If you’ve stayed in any number of hotels lately, you know what I mean. Public access bathrooms aren’t much better; indeed, they’re sometimes worse if they don’t have staff dedicated to checking them frequently for cleanliness and supplies. What’s so wrong with these facilities? Let us count the ways:

So Close And Yet So Far — Apparently no one has ever done a study to determine the optimal location of toilet paper relative to the toilet. Or if they have, no one who builds bathrooms ever refers to it. Thus, toilet paper will be: 1) So far in front or off to the side that you practically fall off reaching for it or 2) So close as to almost be behind you, resulting in the need for a yoga maneuver that should not be contemplated even when fully clothed, much less when half dressed.

Will Someone Get The Light? — The lighting in most bathroom falls into two categories as well. There’s Old and Tired, which is guaranteed to make everything in the room, especially you, look 40 years older and 30 pounds heavier. (Please note this is the same light used in clothing store fitting rooms). The opposite is Stage Floodlights, the same kind of lighting used on Broadway, which is clearly perfect for those three a.m. visits to the loo.

It’s Curtains For You See — Shower curtains have to be one of the worst inventions ever. They inevitably billow inward during a shower and stick to you. They get mildew in about 2.5 seconds. If not carefully tucked into the tub, they actually help to guide more water *out* of the shower and onto the floor than if you’d had nothing around the tub at all. And they don’t provide an end to end seal, so there’s always a cold draft coming in from one end or the other.

So Close And Yet So Far Redux — I have yet to find a bathroom, in a hotel or public space, that actually allows you to get up close to a mirror. Either the vanity is 2.5 feet deep and runs the entire length of the mirror, or they have a smaller sink and the toilet shoved up underneath the mirror. This is not just a woman’s complaint either — I like to see to put on my makeup, but most guys I know like to see to be able to shave too.

Off The Shelf — Hotel owners everywhere: Who’s clever idea was it to locate the linens shelf *in the shower* so that all of your towels, facecloths, and hand towels are permanently damp? Also: shelves located over the toilet sound like a brilliant, space-saving idea… right until you drop the bottle of aspirin into the bowl.

Fan Club — Bathroom fans, the kind meant to remove steam build-up, seem to have two speeds. There is Your Mirror Is Going to Fog Up Anyway and Turbo Fan. The former is obviously useless; the latter has this kind of supernatural ability to remove steam from a room before the water has even realized it’s going to become steam. You’re in for a frosty shower.

There are other issues of course. Like constructing tubs out of metal, which conduct heat rapidly, leaving you with cold bath water in about three minutes. Or lining floors with ceramic tiles — surely only Teflon would provide a slipperier surface?

I realize that in the grand scheme of world problems, these are but petty complaints…

… on the other hand, perhaps if our world leaders weren’t always half-frozen by poorly designed showers, concussed by falls on slippery floors, and/or hadn’t cut themselves shaving, perhaps we’d have some of those bigger problems fixed by now!


Tough to Moove

I told you homeboy u can't tip this. (Photo Credit: Bene16 via Wikimedia Commons)
I told you homeboy u can’t tip this. (Photo Credit: Bene16 via Wikimedia Commons)

We all lead busy lives and I know it’s hard to keep up with important, cutting edge news. I consider it my duty to keep you informed, so, this just in: You cannot tip a cow.

Margo Lillie, a doctor of zoology at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and her student Tracy Boechler conducted a study on the physics of cow-tipping. Using parameters like the weight and height of an average cow, the cow’s centre of gravity and the angle of the attempted tip, the pair determined it would take at least two if not four people to tip a cow over. Their calculations also assume the cow would allow itself to be tipped.

“We are relieved to hear that someone has taken this matter seriously and produced a study,” said Mooshe Patterson, head of “Be Herd!” a cattle anti-defamation society. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to stories about intoxicated young men sneaking into a pasture late at night, trying to tip over one of my friends. Maybe now that there’s a bit of science involved, people will stop trying.”

Mooshe continued, “It’s a very serious problem that’s caused a great deal of misunderstanding between our two cultures. For instance, I bet you believe that ‘hoof and mouth’ is a disease cattle get. In fact, it’s actually hoof IN mouth, and it’s what humans get when they attempt a tip.”

“And let’s talk about mad cow disease,” said Cowtney Smith, spokescattle for Bovine Betterment International. “That one clip you saw played over and over again on the news of some poor cow staggering into the barn? That wasn’t a sick cow, that was a cow that had spent the night trying to avoid cow tippers. The local pub had been offering pints for a dollar all evening and she was absolutely exhausted.”

Smith seemed affronted by the notion that cow physics was somehow ridiculous. “You humans have this perception of cattle as stupid and slow,” she said. “Cattle science and math is quite advanced. Haven’t you ever heard of cow pi? Or cowculus?”

Bullgess Jones agrees: “It always seems like it’s in one ear and out the udder with people,” he said in a telephone interview earlier today. “You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that research involving cows is extremely important, and it touches on your daily life.

“But in the interest of making hay while the sun shines, I’ll give you an example,” he continued. “We cattle eat a lot of vegetation. Forgive me for being indelicate, but that gives us a lot of wind. For centuries, your kind has thought that ‘moo’ was just a funny noise we made, when really it was us trying to moan to you about our tummy aches. It’s only now, when you realize that cow belches contribute to global warming that you want to do something about it.”

Jones is referring to a study by UK scientists which saw an additive added to cattle feed which reduced their methane output by up to 70 percent.

How do cattle cope with the misunderstandings and prejudice? “The strongest of us rely on our great philosophers, people like Johann Herder or the Baron de Moontesquieu for guidance. Their words can provide great comfort,” Jones replied.

“The rest of us, well…” he said, “we just drink a lot, you know, to dull the pain. And that’s not good for humans either, because when we drink to forget, we end up producing milk of amnesia.”